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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A first hand report from Cairo

I recently received the following report from Cairo. For the person's safety, I am going to omit any possibly identifying characteristics.

Hello all,

The internet has just been turned back on here.  No one knows how long it will stay on, but here are a few updates.

I am fine and safe.  I am still here in Cairo, at home in my apartment.  I live nearNubar Street, one building removed from the Interior Ministry.  Liberation Square (Midan Tahrir), the site of the main demonstrations, is five blocks down the street.  

For many days, my street was jam-packed with security forces (police, secret police, and others).  Some of the most intense fighting between the security forces and the protesters was on Friday and Saturday.  The protesters attempted to approach the Interior Ministry and were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition.  The news reported that at least five people died on those streets.  On Sunday, the streets near the Ministry contained at least 20 torched police vehicles.  Saturday was particularly intense, and the tear gas fumes were thick around the building.  On Saturday night, security forces started entering our building, knocking on doors and asking/pleading for civilian clothes.  We aren't sure, but we think they were attempting to remove their uniforms and disappear into the crowds.  Either way, the streets on Sunday morning were covered with black uniforms from the police.  Sometime before Sunday dawn, the Interior Ministry was abandoned- and with it, the street in front my building.  We now have two tanks directly in front of our building, which has actually been much more settling than the previous situation of 3 security cordons on this block.  There are four additional tanks in the intersection and on the next block.

I am lucky to live in a building with many friends.  Most of the foreigners are still here.  A couple decided to stay elsewhere in Cairo, one is staying with a friend in Dahab, and two were on the first American evacuation flight to Athens. Another neighbor (my subletter from last year) was supposed to move to Boston last week.  After three trips to the airport and three canceled flights, she finally departed today.

A bunch of Egyptian friends have been telling me that they are up nights as part of an effort to protect their neighborhoods.  One friend referred to it as a 'community militia.'  Many people are telling me about rising food prices. 

No one expected events to escalate as quickly as they have.  The country has really been shocked by what has happened.  It has been awe-inspiring and unnerving.  During yesterday's enormous demonstrations in Tahrir Square, the atmosphere resembled a festival.  Today it is a battle.  Friends are beyond sad today.   

Posted by Administrators on February 2, 2011 at 04:45 PM in Odd World | Permalink


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For those just tuning into world events, perhaps owing to home confinement due to the weather, I have a post on the democratic uprising in Egypt here: http://ratiojuris.blogspot.com/2011/02/democratic-uprising-in-egypt.html

Posted by: Patrick S. O'Donnell | Feb 2, 2011 8:43:14 PM

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